Hi, Doctor Nick! - How to Manage Your Time and What to Do When Your Music Never Goes "Pop"

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Nick Hook does a little bit of everything. That's not why we love him—his ongoing status as "best dude ever" is reason enough—but it is why we made him our resident advice columnist. The guy knows about DJing, production, playing live, buying gear, traveling the world, and living life to the fullest—on a budget. Every Thursday morning, he answers questions from our readers, so hit him up at doctornick@xlr8r.com. He's here to help. It's literally what we pay him for.

Hi. I hope everyone is doing well. I just wanted to start this column by saying thank you to everyone for reading, writing questions, and coming up to me IRL. I am humbled by that. I really can't believe I'm writing a column from Spain. Before music, I hadn't even left America. It's trippy... and awesome.

Back to spain. Barcelona is amazing and inspiring. There's so much here to make you feel. Shouts to my Classicworks brehs, Nehuen and Cardopusher. I went to fun BBQ with RBMA last night. Yannick and Nightwave were great behind the decks.

Shout out to my dude Kalaf from Buraka Som Sistema, who's gonna host my set on Saturday at Sónar. Shout out to all the jamons runnin' wild through Spain. Shout out to dark hotel rooms. Shout out to Jillionaire. Shout out to Baauer. Shout out to Torsten and Yannick from RBMA. I could keep going, but I gotta send this in to my editor Shawn.

Holler at me. doctornick@xlr8r.com.

Hi Doctor Nick,
What do you do when all you seem to do is produce spaghetti that never seems to stick?

I feel like I've had a ton of chances, more than most will ever get... and couldn't find the handle. I've had DJs playing my music. I've played tons of live shows, had lots of releases, etc. But it never went "pop." Now I'm a big loser and my family hates me and my friends and children won't talk to me anymore because I don't make trap music. (Just kidding, they all love me and everything is great.)

But I do feel like I have managed to do EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to ensure that NOTHING HAPPENS, which is the exact opposite of what I intended, obviously.

I dunno. Stop? Re-adapt?

I don't know what "pop" means. I think all the stuff you mentioned sounds dope. A million people would be happy with that. I think for something to become "pop" right now has so many factors built into it. Lots of times, it just means the artist is making some wack regenerated bullshit with all the industry heavyweights behind them—which is like the most boring thing there is.

I think you should just be yourself. Don't battle being yourself. Maybe you are just the weird dude dropping records on dope labels, playing shows, and getting your music played. What's wrong with that? Do you realize like 96.2% of the people reading this would trade places with you in an instant?

For me, if I ever fall below my standards, I'm done being "pro" in a second. I'll get a job tomorrow. We did that shit. We lived it, we toured. We did all the things. Do we really need to hold on to our identity as a DJ or a musician? I'll go work at a bookstore and make music as a hobby when I get home, maybe make a guaranteed income and get health insurance. I'll just have fun doing my hobby and not even trip.

I'd just keep making more spaghetti though. You never know when that one batch is gonna be the right one that everyone loves to taste.

Hi Doctor Nick,
As a young electronic producer/DJ, it seems like there are a million things trying to take up my time. I'm pretty solid behind the decks, I've played gigs (and continue to), but I am fairly new to Ableton, having only a few finished projects under my belt, so I feel like I should be spending most of my time "in the studio." There is also a ton of other stuff I could be doing on the more admin/business side of things: getting contacts, networking, promo, etc. What should I really focus most of time on?


This is what I do:

Wake up. Blast off as many emails as possible, sometimes with one eye open in bed. Try and get some exercise. Go to the studio. I try and shut ALL business out while I'm being creative or studying. ("Try" is the key word. I'm not gonna front like I am the best at it, but I realized that if I focus on one thing at a time that it's SOOOO much more beneficial.)

Leave at at a decent hour. This is a new thing I learned after becoming a man in the last few years. I got sick of fucking everything up and not being a human, so really, learn how to have a great productive day and go home. Read a book, hang with a friend, take a girl on a date, live... trust me. I know it sounds mad corny and we all wanna be in the studio 24 hours a day "grinding" and shit, but music will be there our whole lives.

After living life, if there is any business to attend to, I tend to try and send a few emails before I go to bed, or at least clean out my Gmail and leave a couple of notes for what to do in the morning.

When I was younger, my plague was working in the house, which meant my studio time consisted of some music making, some internet chat, and some wandering around the house. I was up until like 5 a.m. every night and I was like, "Am I really doing anything good at all?" See if you can find a little studio space outside the crib with your friends. It changed my life forever.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Maybe you can help a buddy that's not good at something and in return he can help you back if you hate promoting or something.

Okay, I think that's all. Hi. Bye.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.